This blog post is about
-creativity, health, and boundaries.
-how saying no to people and responsibilities (and even the odd party!) is crucial for keeping illness at bay.
I live with fibromyalgia, but even if you do not, some of my words may resonate...
May 27th 2023
Ireland is warming up, the countryside is an explosion of colour, and my creativity is flowing. I hope that you are enjoying the season, where ever you are.
ARTS AND HEALTH
Recently I completed an amazing Arts in Medicine fellowship program, and it was an interesting experience that saw me working 7 days a week for the last few months. It was a surprise to be invited to co-present the closing ceremony.
Public speaking is no joke! Back in January I spoke at a Tralee conference alongside a nurse and a physio, where 200 people listened intently to me when it was my turn to present. Despite being nervous at the start, it all went fine. My Arts in Medicine role was to present on Zoom, which is something I’ve never done. I felt more nervous about it than a real-life scenario.
Public speaking is something that a vast amount of people feel uneasy about. The anxiety around it is so great in populations worldwide that some researchers even measure the reactions in the body for stress responses to gain deeper insights into our physiology. * It’s natural to feel a bit nervous about doing something new in public, and I usually put it in perspective by reminding myself that it is never a life or death situation! It’s good to embrace a challenge. How can we grow and learn otherwise?
Co-presenting was exciting, stressful, and challenging. It took 15 of us to make the event happen, with two of us in ‘front of house’ mode. It was like working in a small control tower at the heart of an airport, bonkers busy, with decisions being made in every moment to chop and change as needed despite our meticulous planning.
In the middle of it all I shared the poem that I had written, then returned to the role of presenting. Adewumi (my co-host) was brilliant. He was really on it. I have no desire to do something like that again on zoom. Being invited to give a talk would be fine if it was just that one task. Still, overall it was a fantastic experience.
CREATIVITY FOR WELLBEING
So what is arts and health all about? It is nothing new, however within the fields of medicine and science a shift is finally happening, which is exciting.
In a nutshell ,when it comes to sickness the pills don’t work, one in 5 prescriptions cause harm (I was shocked by that statistic), and art enhances our capacity for healing.
Before we go on, I must point out that although I mostly avoid it, I am not anti-medicine. It is a miracle! What I find bonkers is the over reliance on prescriptions, and how that has become a cultural norm in many societies.
Photo by Anna Shvets
HEALTH EQUITY AND SOLIDARITY
I enjoyed my Arts in Medicine training experience. After hearing about the struggles that are encountered worldwide by other professionals within the Arts and Health realm, a sense of group solidarity has been deepened for sure.
It is exciting that data from longitudinal studies is now emerging. After following people for many years, researchers have discovered, among other things, that arts participation is powerful when it comes to supporting our health.
Art is linked to lowering stress levels, which boosts our chances of recovery. It increases a person’s ability to cope with health challenges and connects us. Art is a balm: creatives have always known this intuitively. That’s why so many of us have been writing, making visual art, and engaging with various forms for self-expression for decades.
BOUNDARIES AND BRUSHES
As a facilitator I work to teach and uplift other people, however it is crucial that I mind my own health first and foremost. As I approach 50 I am finding it easier to say ‘no’ more often to others so that I can say ‘yes’ to devoting energy to painting and writing. It has not been an overnight transition!
The odd time it applies to friendships too. Just yesterday I had to miss a friend’s book launch. I was sad to, but I knew that I’d become unwell if I pushed myself any harder after a busy week. In my 20s and 30s I would have ignored the aches, pains, sore throat, and other signs only to end up feeling depleted.
How about you? Do you find it difficult to maintain boundaries? Here’s wishing you the courage to make changes, and becoming more comfortable with claiming that precious, nourishing, ‘me time’.
Bye for now,
* Arsalan, A., Majid M. (2021) ‘Human stress classification during public speaking using physiological signals‘
KEEP IN TOUCH
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